Web-Based App Lets Tenants Document Heat Problems

A new Web app called Heat Seek NYC, which tracks ambient temperatures inside apartments with an Internet-connected sensor, is designed to be used by New York renters. Its creators are collaborating with two not-for-profit groups to launch the product. It's intended for renters, who filed some 214,000 complaints last year alone, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The data recorded on the app produces a log that can be printed and taken to housing court.

Between October 2013 and May 2014, New York City completed about $5.1 million in emergency repairs when building owners failed to restore heat, hot water, or both after being served with violation notices, according to the housing department.

Heat Seek NYC requires the installation of a temperature sensor inside an apartment. The tenant then uses a free app to compare the sensor data against outdoor temperatures and indoor requirements set by the New York City heating code to identify violations as they occur.

Owners are required to heat buildings to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when daytime temperatures fall below 55 degrees outside. At night, the inside temperature must be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit when it is 40 degrees or less outside.

Heat Seek NYC plans to donate 100 sensors to low-income households this year and to give away another 1,000 after an online fundraising campaign.